Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Chasing Rabbits, And Other Words of Wisdom From Allan Head

allan headWhen Allan Head retires as executive director of the N.C. Bar Association at the end of the year, he will not only leave a 43-year legacy of stellar service to the legal profession.

He will also leave a lot of great one-liners.

 “Don’t make a five-alarm fire out of a one-alarm fire,” is one of his favorite sayings. As is: “Celebrate what’s right, then find the energy to fix what’s wrong.”

Close to 200 of his inspirational and motivational quotes have been compiled by Fastcase in the publication Head Notes, which collectively make for fun reading – and good life advice.

Law, Sports and Spirituality

Allan graduated from Wake Forest University, where he was a hurdler and co-captain of the track team, and Wake Forest University School of Law. After four years of military service, he joined the NCBA staff as executive secretary in 1973 and has been there ever since. For the past 35 years he has served as executive director.

During his tenure, he has received enough awards and honors to fill an auditorium. Most recently, the Wake Forest Athletics Department presented him with the Pete Moffitt Courage Award.

“What an inspiration Allan has been to so many people,” said Ron Wellman, Wake Forest Director of Athletics at that ceremony.

And in October, the Bar Center was filled to capacity for a formal portrait presentation.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for the help you gave me as I transitioned into the role of chief justice,” said N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin at that event. “You helped collaborate on a shared vision with the judicial branch. Your energetic and enthusiastic leadership was critical to setting that vision on a successful path.”

Hits from a Rock Star

Jeff Davis, executive director of the 48,000 member State Bar of Georgia, says Allan’s peers at bar associations across the country consider him a rock star.

Here are 30 of that star’s greatest hits, courtesy of Head Notes:

  1. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.

  2. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

  3. Who does the right thing when no one is looking?

  4. Relationships are best built before you need something.

  5. They may forget what you said, but will remember how you made them feel.

  6. Write handwritten notes.

  7. Do not approve or sign your own reimbursement checks.

  8. If your ship misses the harbor, it’s hardly ever the harbor’s fault.

  9. Farming looks easy when you’re 1,000 miles from a cornfield.

  10. Laugh at yourself more often.

  11. Whenever possible: personalize, customize and empathize.

  12. Activity is not necessarily an accomplishment.

  13. Anyone can steer the ship; a leader charts the course.

  14. A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.

  15. Answer the question first, then elaborate.

  16. Pick up a piece of trash on the way into the building.

  17. Learn people’s names and what they do or did.

  18. If you’re taking your members for granted, don’t be surprised when they’re not there.

  19. It’s what happens next that’s important.

  20. MBWA (management by walking around) is a good principle.

  21. People buy into the leader, then the vision.

  22. Surround yourself with positive people.

  23. When raising money, don’t forget to ask for the money.

  24. We get paid for the tough days; anyone can do the job on the easy days.

  25. Be thrifty but not cheap.

  26. In golf as in life, if someone says “that’s a gimme” – take it.

  27. Run it like you own it.

  28. Price is what you pay, value is what you get.

  29. Nothing is often a good thing to do, and frequently it is a good thing to say.

  30. The days may be long, but the years are short.

Allan and his wife Patti have been married 49 years. They have three children and eight grandchildren.

For the past two years, Allan has been battling kidney cancer. He has done so with his characteristic courage and grace. Meanwhile, the accolades have continued to pour in, and the wisdom has continued to flow out.


  • NCBA

·         NCBA


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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